Gossip Girl: You know You Love Me

December 5, 2007 at 2:21 pm (Gossip Girl)

Reading the first Gossip Girl novel was not easy for me as it took quite some time until I got familiar with all the characters in the book. Even though we watched the movie in class before reading the novels, I had problems figuring out all the characters. So I enjoyed reading the second Gossip Girl novel much more because I already knew the characters and could relate much more to them, even though I still think that the characters are to be sorry for. Their lives are mainly made out of sex, parties, boys and girls, and drugs.gossip-girl2.jpg

The second novel starts with Blair’s birthday party together with her gay father and her beloved Nate. Again, the two teenagers want to have sex, but Blair’s mum and her new boyfriend Cyros Rose interrupt them by telling Blair that they are going to marry. Mentioning and celebrating the announcement on Blair’s seventeenth birthday hurts the girl. Here you can see that Blair’s mum does not take her daughter’s feelings seriously. She seems to be a selfish person who just thinks about her fiancé and her wedding.

Nate and Blair don’t get along with each other any more, and so Blair tries everything to make things up for Nate. She wants to buy him a beautiful though expensive cashmere pyjama, but her mum’s credit card does not work, and so she steals the pyjama pants. Serena van der Woodsen becomes the witness of this thievery, but she does not blurt out the truth.

Nate, who does not seem to love Blair very much, meets Jenny Humphrey by accident, but the two start seeing each other behind Blair’s back. Jenny falls in love with Nate who also develops some feelings for the fourteen-year-old girl.

Serena van der Woodsen dates with Dan, but Serena gets freaked out because of Dan’s dark poetry. He seems like a stalker who is obsessed of Serena. He even thinks about marrying her, although soon he realizes that Serena does not have the same feelings for him. He recognizes it when Serena, him, Nate and some of Nate’s friends go to Brown University for their interview. Serena falls asleep with holding Nate’s hands. They really seem to feel something for each other.

Blair drives with her new stepbrother Aaron Rose, Cyrus’ son, to Yale University. Aaron, who justhas moved into the Waldorf’s household with his dog Mookie, wants to be nice to Blair and accompanies her to her important interview at Yale. Unfortunately, Blair is so sad and upset at that time that she messes up the interview by kissing her interviewer and revealing him all her problems. That is really a sign that the girl is in desperate need of talking to someone who really loves her. She is so depressed that she does not have her emotions under control. Even though Blair becomes friends with her stepbrother, she does not approve of the marriage between her mother and Aaron’s father.

Things really get worse for Blair at her mum’s wedding when she sees her boyfriend Nate kissing Jenny Humphrey in the hotel lobby. Nate provokes it. He even wants Blair catching him kissing Jenny. Blair feels so bad and sick that she runs into the bathroom to throw up. There, she meets Serena who tries to consult her and help her with her make-up. They become friends again.gossip-girl_group.jpg

Sometimes really bad things must happen that people realize who their friends are. The novel provokes so many thoughts about the social upper class of people who can wear the nicest clothes, drink the best alcohol, wear the best make-up, go to the most famous parties, take drugs and still be accepted by society, etc. Celebrities like Britney Spears can have all of the things the girls in the book can have, but are those people really happy? Look at them!!! After some time they get dependent on drugs, look like s…, cannot show up in the public anymore…. But is this a satisfactory life?! The novels really made me think about the real values in life. Sometimes, I wish to have much more money to spend it on whatever I wish: go to the best restaurants and bars and drink the best cocktails available, have the nicest clothes one can get, wear the most expensive make-up… but when I look at those girls in the novel, I am glad that I am not like them.

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Gossip Girl

December 1, 2007 at 12:16 pm (Gossip Girl)

Gossip Girl is a series of novels for teenagers by Cecily von Ziegesar. Gossip Girl is also the observing narrator of the series. The narrator has all the girls and guys of the series under surveillance, gossips about the girls on a popular blog site that many people visit, and judges their behavior.

Blair Waldorf attends a party at her house with her two friends Kati and Isabel. But Blair soon leaves the party to have sex with her boyfriend Nate Archibald in her bedroom. It would be her first time having sex with a guy. The couple gets interrupted by Serena van der Woodsen, Blair’s former best friend. One year ago, Serena left New York City to attend a boarding school, but now she came back because she was expelled from school. Blair did not enjoy Serena’s appearance because Blair was always left in the shadow together with Serena. gosspi-girl1.jpgBlair even gossips with her friends about Serena, so that all the other former friends of Serena start to ignore her too. When Blair finds out that her boyfriend Nate had sex with Serena some time ago (Blair and Nate did not date when that happened), Blair really starts to hate Serena. She does everything to ignore the girl. She does not even invite her to a party she has organized.

The main teenage characters in this series live in the sophisticated Upper East Side of New York City. They are all rich, and their main free-time activities are shopping, drinking, smoking, taking drugs, drinking, having sex or at least thinking about it. Their rich parents encourage their kids’ behavior.

Serena van der Woodsen, one of the main characters in the series, is a very pretty girl with long blonde hair, blue eyes and a very good shape. She is the perfect girl who can dress however she wants and wear whatever make-up she wants, she will always look perfect. She is physically perfect, but not so in her personality. She was expelled from boarding school, because she just had prolonged her summer holidays and hadn’t returned to school on time. As Serena is so beautiful, she gets much attention from the opposite sex. Many guys want to have sex with her and some even fall in love with Serena. Guys that really admire and worship her are Dan Humphrey, a very sensitive, chain-smoking, caffeine-addicted poet who often sees the darker side to things, and Nate Archibald, Blair’s boyfriend. But not only young men admire her. Also many girls want to be like Serena, especially Jenny Humphrey, Dan’s sister.  Jenny is fourteen years old and so the youngest of the Gossip Girl characters. She has a very large chest for her size. She is so happy when she talks the first time to Serena. She is so proud of befriending with her idol Serena van der Woodsen and tries everything to stay in contact with her. She tries to fit in with the rich girls at her school, even though she does not hold a place in their social sphere.

Blair Waldorf is pretty too and also seems to be intelligent. She is involved in many extracurricular activities, organizes lots of events, and wants to go to Yale after high-school. She is a very determined and eager girl. She is also a very romantic girl who tries everything to make her boyfriend Nate having sex with her in the most romantic way. But unfortunately, they get interrupted several times and the right moment never comes. Nate is a wealthy, good-looking guy, but he smokes a lot of marijuana. Blair idolizes Audrey Hepburn and very often pretends that her life is a movie. Blair is suffering from bulimia, but in the series the terrible illness gets very much downplayed. The characters know that their friend is suffering from that illness, but nobody actually does anything against it, not even her parents. Her romantic and weak sides get overplayed by her bitchy and arrogant behavior. She uses her money, her social status and her charm to get whatever she wants. She always wants to be the center of society and encourages all her friends to ignore her former best friend Serena. When Serena left New York City, Balir realized that everything was much easier for her. Now she was the center of the cool girls and all admired her. She did not stand in the shadow of Serena van der Woodsen any more.

Blair’s family broke up when her parents got divorced. Her father was once a lawyer and now he is living in France with his various gay lovers. Her mother is a society hostess and dates Cyrus Rose, a not very handsome guy.serena-and-blair.png

After describing some of the main characters in the first book Gossip Girl, I must admit that the book did not invite me to become an aspirational reader. I rather can laugh about the characters in the book, who think that life is made up of sex, nice clothes, drugs, party and boys. I am an ironic reader when it comes to reading Gossip Girl because I think that life does not work like it gets described in the books. The characters don’t know what real love is, they don’t know what real friendship means. Their lives are made up of a pure consumer culture, and only those guys who adjust to this culture are accepted. People, who value other things in life and do not have as much money as the upper class, are not accepted in the Gossip Girl world. The girls are fashionized and sexualized, drink expensive alcohol like Scotch and Whisky and are proud about that. Is that normal? Why do parents accept that? Maybe the kids cannot even be blamed for their behavior because they take their parents as role models who also live in this consumer culture and never show the girls what the true values in life are. Take Blair, for example. She has to cope with their parents’ divorce and a father who is gay and takes much pride in French shoes like his daughter does. How can a teenage girl cope with that? I am sure, her mother never takes the time to talk with her daughter about her feelings and problems. Her mum has a new boyfriend and devotes all her free-time to him. Blair does not play an important role in her mother’s life.

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The Cheetah Girls: Hey, Ho, Hollywood!

November 23, 2007 at 5:10 am (The Cheetah Girls)

It is not that I am lazy to write a lot about the last book of the Cheetah Girls Livin’ Large Books 1-4 that is called Hey, Ho, Hollywood, but it is really hard to write a remarkable long comment after writing pages about the first three books. For me, the story is not very different from the other three stories. the-cheetah-girls.jpg
It is about the girls who really try hard to become famous and get really frustrated when they lose the world-famous Apollo Amateur Hour contest. All the girls cry and are very upset. They cannot believe that they have lost the contest. They react as if the whole world has broken down. Their reactions show that it is their greatest wish to become famous singers. They really want to make their dreams come true, and they try everything to give the best. But their effort is not enough, and they lose the contest. Luckily, Galleria’s mum’s hairdresser Pepto B. makes it possible for the Cheetah Girls to come to his salon and sing in front of his famous customer Kahlua, the teenage R&B diva. Kahlua’s last single topped the charts, and so the girls are really happy that they can rock Pepto B.’s salon with their newest song “More Pounce to the Ounce”. As Kahlua likes the Cheetah Girls’ performance, she hooks up a meeting with her record label executives in Hollywood. The girls are so excited and are looking forward to coming to Hollywood. Although they encountered great difficulties at the airport because of weather problems, Galleria and the girls finally make it to fly to Hollywood.

Besides the frustration of losing the Apollo Amateur Hour contest and the excitement of flying to Hollywood, one important issue in this novel is the relationship between Anginette and Aquanette and their future stepmother High Priestess Abala Shaballa Bogo Hexagone, their father’s new girlfriend. The twins do not really like her and are not satisfied with her behavior. She seems to be a very strange person who believes in spooky rituals and even practises the rituals in the twins’ home.deborah-gregory.jpg

Even though I don’t like the novel very much, I would let my kids read the fourth book of the Cheetah Girls as well, because kids can again learn something from the book. They find out that even if people encounter problems in life (like the Cheetah Girls did when they lost the famous contest), there is still a light at the end of the tunnel (the Cheetah Girls could fly to Hollywood in the end).  The relationship between the twins and their fathers’ new girlfriend is a valuable issue for kids as well. Many kids these days have to live with single parents, have get used to new stepparents, have to deal with divorce, etc. The novel helps kids to realize that they are not the only ones who have to deal with problems like that.

In conclusion, I would not have problems if my kids wanted to read the Cheetah Girls novels, even though I am not an eager advocate of the novels by Deborah Gregory I have read so far. The reasons for not being a supporter of the books can be found in the four comments I have written about the books 😉 .  

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The Cheetah Girls: Who’s Bout to Bounce?

November 20, 2007 at 4:58 am (The Cheetah Girls)

Dorinda Rogers is the narrator of the novel “Who’s Bout to Bounce?”. Although Dorinda is only twelve years old, she already attends 9th grade at Fashion Industries High School. She seems to be the smartest girl of the Cheetah Girls and also the best dancer.the-cheetah-girls_livin-large.jpg

In this novel, Dorinda’s dance teacher tells her that she is a very good dancer, and that she has the power to audition as a back-up dancer for the singing sensation Mo’ Money Monique. Dorinda finally auditions and gets the job. But as she loves it to be with the Cheetah Girls, she is really worried about leaving the Cheetah Girls, and so she does not tell her friends that she got the job as a back-up dancer. Being a back-up dancer for the Mo’ Money Monique group means travelling a year around with the singers. This would mean for Dorinda to leave the Cheetah Girls and also her family behind.

Dorinda is a foster child and lives with her foster mum and dad and ten other children in the housing projects of Harlem, New York. Even though Dorinda likes her foster mum, she does not like to live with all the kids in the small apartment. Sometimes she really wishes to be able to live a normal live. As Mrs. Bosco is just her foster mum, the woman cannot show her feelings very well. She, for example, never hugs her kids and tells them that she loves them. Dorinda sometimes wishes to be hugged by her foster mum like the other Cheetah Girls are hugged by their parents. “I wish my foster mum would hug me like that. Maybe once she really adopts me, she will…” (Gregory 366). Finally, Mrs. Bosco asks Dorinda if she wants to be adopted by her, and Dorinda agrees. She is really happy about that because then she will have a real mother like other children have.deborah-gregory1.jpg

Dorinda does not like her foster mum’s looks, and she is also ashamed of her foster home. So she does not want the Cheetah Girls to meet Mrs. Bosco and visit their home. But one day, the girls meet Mrs. Bosco in front of the school. Without letting Dorinda know, the Cheetah Girls support Mrs. Bosco to improve her looks. They show her how to put on make-up and change her outfit. They also organize a surprise adoption party for Dorinda at her home. When Dorinda realizes that all the girls are driving towards her home, she really gets upset because she does not want the girls to see her home. But in the end, she is really happy of her foster mum’s new style, and she is really glad about the party the girls have organized. At the party, it is also revealed that Dorinda got the back-up dancer job. The Cheetah Girls are not angry at all about the tour, and they say that Dorinda has to know on her own what she wants to do. They even offer her to take her back into the group whenever she comes back.

Unfortunately, the adoption went wrong. Dorinda is not being adopted. In the end, she also decides against the tour, because she loves the Cheetah Girls too much.

When I was reading the book, I really thought that I liked the book much better than the other novels, because I started to like the Cheetah Girls. I started to like them because they helped to make Mrs. Bosco much prettier and also organized the surprise adoption party for Dorinda. But when I came to the university the next day and talked to the other students in the group discussion, I changed my mind. Some girls in the group said that the Cheetah Girls just have improved Mrs. Bosco’s looks because they did not want a pop group’s mum to look so embarrassing. As they liked the outward appearance of their mums, they also wanted Mrs. Bosco to look great. They not only did it for Dorinda, they just did it for themselves to make the whole girl group look better. They did not want other adults and teenagers to see the unstylish Mrs. Bosco.

I must admit, I haven’t thought about that when I was reading the novel. I thought that finally I could really see the true friendship among the girls. But after the discussion with the girls in the class, I really doubt if it is true friendship or just a superficial relationship among the girls.

Although I don’t like the book very much, I would let kids read the novel because they can still learn something from it. They learn about the problems foster children have to deal with; they learn about the relationship amongst parents and kids; they get an impression of making one’s dreams come true; they learn that not all decisions are made easily in life; they also find out that sometimes people have to keep secrets in order not to hurt other human beings’ feelings.

I would for sure not prohibit my kids to read this novel, because I think that kids can learn a lot from reading the book.

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The Cheetah Girls: Shop in the Name of Love

November 3, 2007 at 10:47 am (The Cheetah Girls)

The story is told by Chanel, who likes to spend time with her father’s girlfriend Pamela and loves shopping. Her mum doesn’t like her daughter to spend time with Pamela and forbids her to accept and take any presents from Pamela. To make that clear, Chanel’s mum gives her daughter her credit card and allows her to buy one dress for her big meeting with The Cheetah Girls Club. the-cheetah-girls_livin-large.jpg But instead of buying just one outfit, Chanel buys several things. She spends a lot of money with her mum’s credit card. Chanel believes that she can give her mum the money back, because she will make a lot of money with The Cheetah Girls anyway. So she even buys things for Dorinda who doesn’t have enough money to buy nice outfits.

Unfortunately, her mother realizes that Chanel has spent so much money with her credit card and forces her to stop being a member of The Cheetah Girls. Luckily, Galleria’s mum can calm Juanita down and makes another suggestion how Chanel should be punished. Finally, Chanel has to work in Galleria’s mum store to work off her debts.

Another part of the story deals with The Cheetah Girls, who finally don’t sign the contract with Mr. Johnson, because the contract is actually a trap. The girls’ group new manager is now Galleria’s mum Dorothea. She wants to bring The Cheetah Girls to the top.

When you read this story, you realize that the girls are quite disrespectful towards adults. You  cannot take your mum’s credit card and buy as many things as you want!!! Chanel should have been happy about ordering just one outfit as her mother told her, but instead she bought all the things she wanted to have. Even though she bought some stuff for Dorinda, I don’t think she ordered the clothes, because she wanted to make Dorinda happy. She wanted to make herself happy! She wanted that all the girls looked good so that she herself didn’t need to be ashamed of the group members. Here you see again that their friendship is mainly based on labels and nice clothes.

But we should consider that Chanel’s mum forbids her daughter to be friends with her father’s new girlfriend and even tells her not to accept any presents from Pamela – which I think is really odd. Juanita should instead be very happy when her daughter gets along well with her father’s girlfriend. cheetah-girls_shoes.jpgShe shouldn’t be jealous, and if she was jealous, she shouldn’t show that jealousy to her daughter. Her daughter is an individual and can decide on her own with what people she likes to be friends with. I am sure that it is not easy for Chanel to cope with her parent’s divorce, and her mum makes the situation even worse by forbidding her a good relationship with her new stepmother. Chanel has to cope with a quite unstable environment, and maybe that’s a reason for her love of shopping. She wants to heal her offended sensibilities by buying as much stuff as she wants.

What I haven’t mentioned so far when writing about the first book Wishing on a Star cheetah-girls_bag.jpgwas the slang the characters use in the book. I really have problems understanding their talk, even though there is a glossary at the end of each book. I’m not sure if it makes sense to use so many slang words when writing a book. It just makes the characters appear worse, and the readers have problems understanding the phrases. What you realize though when you read the slang words is that the kids come from multicultural backgrounds. This might be the reason why Deborah Gregory used so many slang words when writing the books!

Still, I am not a real fan of The Cheetah Girls, because I simply cannot identify with them or their parents. The age of the girls is surely not the reason, because when I read Nancy Drew or Anne Shirley, who is even younger in the first book, I could really feel and identify with the characters. They made me an aspirational reader, whereas The Cheetah Girls stories so far haven’t fascinated me at all.

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The Cheetah Girls: Wishing on a Star

October 31, 2007 at 4:54 am (The Cheetah Girls)

Galleria and Chanel, two fourteen year old girls, enter Fashion Industries High School. They live in New York City. gregory-deborah.jpgWhile being online in a chat room, Galleria gets to know a girl called Dorinda, who will also enter Fashion Industries High School. So they become friends with Dorinda. Chanel Simmons, her nickname is Chuchie, is a blend of Dominican and Puerto Rican on her mother’s side, Jamaican and Cuban on her father’s side. She lives in Soho. Her mother Juanita is divorced and now has a new boyfriend from France. Her dad also has a new girlfriend. Galleria Garibaldi is also biracial. Her father is an Italian garment manufacturer from Bologna. Her mother, a former model and now boutique owner and designer, is African American. Dorinda lives with a foster family and her skin color is black. Together with two other girls, Anginette and Aquanette, who are African American twin sisters, the three girls form a girls’ band called The Cheetah Girls. They all love singing and by the way they want to beef up their cash flow.

I must admit that I didn’t like the book very much, because I couldn’t identify with the girls in the story. Galleria, who lives on the Upper East Side of New York City, seems to be quite a wealthy girl, because she wears designer clothes – Gucci and Prada, eats Godiva chocolate, has a computer and a telephone in her own bedroom, has a poodle which can make use of several grooming services, etc. You realize in the way she behaves that she is wealthy. Chanel, Anginette and Aquanette also seem to have enough money. Only Dorinda doesn’t have lots of money and has to give the money she earns with The Cheetah Girls to her foster family.

I didn’t like the book, because I don’t like the characters very much. The emphasis is put on designer clothes, money, style, good looking, good reputation and being adored by other people.  the-cheetah-girls_livin-large.jpgThe girls are friends with each other, but their interaction is mainly based on labels and good clothes. If anyone doesn’t wear nice and expensive designer clothes, the girls complain about it and try to figure out ways how all the girls could dress similarly. Friendship is not based on values we normally associate with friendship. The girls often criticize each other and quarrel about things like the selection of songs.

What one has to take in consideration, though, is the fact that especially Galleria and Chanel get very much influenced by their mothers, who were once models and are also very much interested in expensive clothes and money. Chanel’s mum, for example, has now a French boyfriend, who seems to have much money, and Juanita thinks that “he might be her ticket to the Billionaire’s Ball” (Gregory 9). Here you realize that not love is in the center of their relationship but money. Maybe the girls don’t know anything else, because they are so much influenced by their parents.

The only thing I liked about this book was the forming of The Cheetah Girls Club, because you realize that the girls want to fulfil their dreams and try everything to make their dreams come true. A lot of girls at the age of fourteen have dreams about their future and lots of girls want to become actresses, musicians or models. The Cheetah Girls really have the power to make something out of their lives as singers and give children hope to be able to do so too.

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Anne of Avonlea

October 25, 2007 at 4:35 am (Anne Shirley)

Plot

Anne of Avonlea follows the Anne of Green Gables book and deals with the life of the sixteen to eighteen year old Anne Shirley.

Anne teaches at Avonlea School, but still she doesn’t stop studying at home with her friend Gilbert, who is also a teacher at the nearby White Sands School. New characters appear in the second Anne book, like her new neighbour, Mr. Harrison, who has a parrot. First Anne doesn’t get along with anne-of-avonlea_cover.gifhim, but later on she becomes a real friend of the somehow problematic neighbour. First everybody thinks he is a bachelor, but then his wife returns and they start living together again. Further very important new characters are Dora and Davy, the children of Marilla’s third cousin. Dora is the good and well-behaved girl who never does anything wrong. Davy, however, is the opposite. He makes a lot of foolish things and really gives Marilla and Anne a hard time. But still, he is loved by the two women. When their mother dies, Marilla adopts them, and Anne cares for them as well. The book also introduces many of Anne’s schoolchildren, like Paul Irving, who seems to have the same imaginative skills as Anne has. Therefore they get so well along with each other. Paul really loves his teacher Anne and even spends time with her after class. Paul Irving is an American boy who lives with his grandmother in Avonlea. After 25 years his father, who comes to visit Paul in Avonlea, meets Miss Lavendar again, with whom he was engaged once. Anne is the responsible person for the re-meeting of the two people. Finally, the lonely lady gets engaged with Paul’s father again, and they marry.

One really important aspect of the novel is the founding of theAvonlea Village Improvement Society A.V.I.S. Anne and many of her friends take part in the society and try to make Avonlea a better and nicer place to live. Unfortunately, not all improvements are made very easily and the society has to struggle with some defeats.

Why I loved Anne of Avonlea

Again, I loved reading the Anne of Avonlea book, because even though Anne seems to be more grown-up, she still has characteristics of a child. anne-of-green-gables_tea.jpgWhen she is together with Diana or when she is alone, she imagines all kinds of different things again. Therefore, she loves it to spend time with Paul Irving, the schoolchild, who sometimes lives in an imaginative world too. She still makes a lot of mistakes, like selling her neighbor’s cow having mistaken her for her own or getting stuck in a broken duck house roof. But one realizes her adolescent characteristics as well. She becomes more mature and less spontaneous. She really tries to fulfill her adult responsibilities and wants to make good children out of her schoolkids and her new siblings Davy and Dora. While Anne more adjusts to society’s expectations, Davy represents the non-conformist in the novel. He makes many mistakes and gives Marilla and Anne a hard time. But especially this makes the novel funny to read, and Davy reminds the reader of Anne. She made a lot of mistakes when she came to Avonlea, but still she was loved by Marilla and Matthew. Davy is loved by Anne and Marilla too, even though he makes a lot of troubles.

Anne is a girl who really wants to live in a decent and nice community. Anne wants to live peacefully with her neighbors. She even wants all her school kids to love and adore her, although it’s not always easy to make all people love you. She works hard to fulfill all the people’s needs.  Her friends and Anne have founded the A.V.I.S in order to make Avonlea a better place for all people to live. Anne is really concerned about her fellow-human beings, and I really appreciate that. Even though she didn’t have an easy childhood till the age of eleven when she was adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, she is very concerned about the well-being of her friends and family.

She is a really admirable person and gives girls but also adults the possibility to identify with and relate to her. I really look forward to reading other Anne novels, but now I simply don’t have time to read books for me for pleasure. When I’m back at home in Austria, I’ll get some further books and tell my friends of the fascinating red-haired and freckled Anne Shirley.

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Anne of Green Gables

October 17, 2007 at 4:33 am (Anne Shirley)

The coming of age novel Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery is a Canadian classic. It was written in 1908 and was first published in the United States and in Great Britain.

Plot

Anne, the main character of the novel, is an eleven year old orphan who gets adopted by Marilla and Mathew Cuthberts, two middle-aged siblings, who actually wanted to adopt a boy from the asylum in Nova Scotia to help them with their work on their farm. anne-of-green-gables_cover.jpg But as there were some misunderstandings, little Anne Shirley is waiting at the train station to be taken to her new home. Finally, the Cuthberts decide to accept little Anne.

Anne is a skinny girl with very red hair and freckles in her face. Although she is eager to please, she is dissatisfied with her name and her outward appearance. She hates her red braids and her freckles in the face.  Anne is simply not like the other girls at the age of eleven. She is a very special girl with an enormous imagination who takes much joy in life. She loves her new home called Green Gables, which is situated on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

After describing how Anne tries to adapt to her new home and her new family, her education and her friends Diana Barry, Jane Andrews, Ruby Gillis and her not-yet friend Gilbert Blythe play major parts in the story as well. Anne hates Gilbert Blythe, because he has teased her about her red hair. Anne is very sensitive when it comes to her hair and from that time on she simply detests him even though he tries to apologise several times. Even when Anne realizes that she doesn’t hate him anymore, she simply doesn’t admit that and lets everybody in the belief that she cannot stand Gilbert.

The book also deals with the many adventures Anne has with her friends and on her own. The adventures are not always positive, because Anne makes a lot of mistakes during her way growing up: She dyes her hair green and even makes her best friend Diana drunk.

The last chapters of the novel deal with Anne and her friends Ruby, Josie, Jane and also Gilbert going on to Queen’s Academy. There Anne gets her teaching license in one year and even wins the Avery Prize in English. This prize would make it possible for Anne to pursue a degree at Redmond College.

Unfortunately, Matthew dies towards the end of the story, Marilla’s eyesight gets worse, and so Anne decides to refuse the Avery Prize to stay at home with Marilla. Instead of going to college, she wants to teach in the near of her hometown. Gilbert, who actually has been nominated to teach at Avonlea School, refuses to work there, because he wants Anne get the job. When not teaching at school, Anne can stay with Marilla and support her on the farm. This is start of a very close friendship between Gilbert and Anne Shirley. 

Why I loved Anne of Green Gables

I really loved reading the novel Anne of Green Gables, because I was so fascinated by the character of Anne Shirley. annegreengables_cuthbert.jpgShe is a girl who takes so much pleasure in small things in her life, even though she had a hard life before she came to Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Her mum and dad died when Anne was only three months old. Anne then lived with Mrs. Thomas and her drunken husband for eight years and had to look after the four kids of the couple. One day Mr. Thomas died when falling under a train and his mother offered to take Mrs. Thomas and her children. But she did not want to take Anne, and so Anne was taken by another woman called Mrs. Hammond. Mrs. Hammond took Anne, because she was “handy with children” (Montgomery 40). Again Anne had to look after eight children. After two years Mr. Hammond died, and Mrs. Hammond divided all her children among her relatives. She didn’t want to care for her kids anymore. But no one took Anne, and so she had to go to an asylum. But there they didn’t accept her either, because they were overcrowded. Finally, she went to Mrs. Spencer, who then sent her to the Cuthburts.

This story of her childhood really made me sad. It has to be awful for kids not being accepted and loved by their family. But even though Anne had to have a very hard, poor and bad childhood till she came to the Cuthburts, she is a girl that takes so much joy in life. Even the smallest things make her happy.  When Marilla rides with Anne to Mrs. Spencer to give Anne back (sounds like a present that you want to return), Anne says, “I’ve made up my mind to enjoy this drive. It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly. I’m not going to think about going back to the asylum while we’re having our drive. I’m just going to think about the drive. Oh, look, there’s one little early wild rose out! Isn’t it lovely? Don’t you think it must be glad to be a rose? […]” (Montgomery 37).

Even though I had a very good childhood, I could relate to Anne and her feelings when no one loved her. As I could feel with her and relate to a lot of things she said and did, the book really appealed to me.

Anne is such a joyful character. She gives readers, who are maybe coping with problems and struggling with life, hope. She is able to make readers feel positive and confident again. Anne has certainly become a role model for many girls who just want to be like Anne Shirley.

But not only did I feel with Anne, I could also a little bit identify with Marilla. In the beginning she was quite harsh to Anne and never showed or told her that she loved her. I kind of hated her behavior. I often thought, “Come on Marilla, tell Anne that you love her. She is only eleven. Children make mistakes, need to be punished, but also need to be told that they are loved.” Therefore I really liked Matthew who could more easily show that he liked and adored Anne. Only towards the end of the book after Matthew has died, Marilla tells Anne that she loves her.

“We’ve got each other, Anne. I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here-if you’d never come. Oh, Anne, I know I’ve been kind of strict and harsh with you maybe-but you mustn’t think I didn’t love you as well as Matthew did, for all that. I want to tell you now when I can. It’s never been easy for me to say things out of my heart, but at times like this it’s easier. I love you as dear as if you were my own flesh and blood and you’ve been my joy and comfort ever since you came to Green Gables.” (Montgomery 296)

This sentence really touched me and I felt much more sympathetic to Marilla after her statement.

The topics that were covered in the book really appealed to me since I’m a very emotional person. Family life, childhood, girlhood, friendships and communities exactly meet the needs I’m searching in books.

I can just recommend: Read Anne of Green Gables and you become a more satisfied person again and will take more joy in your life.

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Nancy Drew Girl Detective: Without a trace

October 1, 2007 at 12:12 pm (Nancy Drew)

Nancy Drew, who is still living with her father Carson Drew and her housekeeper Hannah Gruen in River Heights, is a classic and timeless girl detective, who seems to have endured through the 1930s to today. This book was written in 2004. Imagine!!! Still she is a very smart, independent and resourceful sleuth, who always seeks for economic justice and who always likes to see the best in people. As she is able to solve all the mysteries happening in River Heights, she is very popular and common among her best friends Bess and George and her boyfriend Ned Nickolson. In the original texts Nancy was 16. In the book Without a Trace she is already 18. Again she is motherless since the age of three (in older texts since the age of 10), and so she is very close to her father Darson Drew, who is a famous lawyer in River Heights. He has a very good reputation and this comes very handy during many mysteries Nancy Drew has to solve.

nacy-drew_without-a-trace.jpgNancy has to solve two mysteries in the book Without a Trace. She has to find out who is running through gardens in River Heights and stomping all the people’s zucchini. Moreover, she has to find out who has stolen the gorgeous Faberge egg, a precious family heirloom, from Simone Valinkofsky, a new French resident of River Heights.

While trying to solve the mysteries, she gets supported by her two best friends Bess and George and by her boyfriend Ned Nickolson. Bess Marvin and George Fayne are cousins, but are two very different characters. Bess is a very pretty girl, who is very boy crazy and enjoys it if boys are admiring her. She is very stylish and clothes and makeup play an important role in her life. Still she can do a lot of things that you would expect boys to do, like fixing up her own car and diagnosing a damaged gasket or a blown engine from a mile away.  George, however, is quite the opposite. She is very athletic and tomboyish and doesn’t care much about fashion and makeup. She really likes computers. Nancy falls in the middle. She doesn’t care about fashion the same way as Bess does, but still wants to look good when she meets her boyfriend. But she is more in mysteries than in fashion, and this we get to know when she meets Nick in the movie theater. Nancy arrives too late, because she has spent too much time dealing with the two cases and so she hasn’t had time to fix her hair. A short, thorny branch is hidden in her hair that probably got in when she was in Simone’s overgrown garden. This shows that she is more interested in mysteries than in her looks. The following paragraph also shows that she is not very interested in makeup and fashion.

“As I hung up the phone I couldn’t help being slightly relieved that Bess wouldn’t be coming by to play fashion consultant. It would give me more time to continue my investigations.” (p. 67)

And Nancy hardly ever wears skirts, although she is a girl. She wears a skirt for the party at Simone’s place, but she doesn’t feel very comfortable and blames the skirt first for her accident that happens at the party.

I liked this book best of the three I have read so far, because Nancy tells the whole story in the first person and seems to be more ‘real’ than in the other mystery novels, because she is not only perfect. So I could really easily identify with the girl sleuth. I also liked the roles her friends Bess, George and Ned played in the story, because their characters were described very well throughout the whole story.  You could easily figure out what roles they play in Nancy’s life. Although Nancy is very engaged in solving the mysteries, she accepts and even needs the help of George, Bess and her boyfriend Ned, which is one main reason what makes Nancy so attainable to me. Some scenes in the book show that Ned tries to help Nancy taking important clues into account, like when they were in Susie Lin’s restaurant and talked about the two cases. “Something about what Ned had just said made me think of something else”. (p. 53). Nancy describes Ned as not being into mysteries the same way as she is, but he’s more than smart enough to follow along when she’s in full hypothesizing mode. Ned seems to be a very patient guy and enjoys having such a smart girlfriend.

The friendship between Nancy, Bess, George and Nick makes the story very believable, because also in reality most people would need their friends’ or other people’s help when solving mysteries or other problems. 

Furthermore, in comparison to the first novel I read, “The secret of the old clock”, this story was much more thrilling, because you had to read the book until the end if you wanted to know who the egg’s thief was and who had stomped all the vegetables in the neighborhood’s gardens. I didn’t want to stop reading the book, because I wanted to know who the culprits were and this fact kept me reading.

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Nancy Drew Mysterious Stories: Nancy’s mysterious letter

September 25, 2007 at 9:45 pm (Nancy Drew)

Again Nancy Drew, the sleuth detective, is trying to solve a tricky mystery. She becomes involved in a case when her mail carrier’s entire mail bag gets stolen in front of her house while the man is inside talking to Nancy and Hannah, the housekeeper, and warming up. Ira Dixon, the victim, is nancy-drew-3.gifshocked and heartbroken, and Nancy tries to find out who the thief is. Nancy finds most of the letters again when she visits Ira’s Nixon’s neighbours to ask them questions about the relationship between Ira Nixon and his brother Edgar Nixon. The letters have blown off the seat of Edgar’s car after he had visited his brother. One of the letters she finds has been addressed to Nancy Drew. She finds out that she has received the letter by mistake, because the letter from England is intended for an heiress, also named Nancy Drew. Nancy starts to search for the young woman, but it becomes obvious that a dangerous man, Edgar, tries to prevent Nancy from finding the heiress. The clever and smart young girl detective finds out that Edgar Nixon plans to marry Nancy Drew, the heiress, to steal all her inheritance after the marriage. Edgar has found out about the inheritance accidentally by reading the letter after stealing the mail bag in front of Nancy’s house. Actually he just wanted to steal one specific letter of one of Mr. Drew’s clients, because there was money in it. He got to know the client via the Lonely Hearts Club he had opened. It was a fake Lonely Heart Club just to get money from his clients.  During Nancy’s investigation, she finds out that Edgar is a very dangerous person and involves many innocent and trusting people in the racket. Nancy, although several times in dangerous situations, finally saves the heiress from the schemer with the help of her two friends Bess and George.

Nancy again is portrayed as the very smart girl detective in the story, who solves the mysteries on her own with some help of her friends. She seeks nancy-drew_mysterious-letter.jpgfor justice and so she immediately tries to find the thief of the postman’s mailbag. She doesn’t want innocent people, like Ira Dixon, to get in trouble. Nancy strongly fights for economic justice, when she realizes that the inheritance should belong to the real Nancy Drew. She tries to search for her, even though she has to confront many obstacles on her way to find her. But she doesn’t only want to find her to tell her about the inheritance – no -, she wants to prevent her from marrying the sly, cunning schemer Edgar Nixon, who does everything to get money. He even engages innocent people to frighten the girl detective Nancy Drew. One day Ned, her boyfriend, and Nancy nearly get hit by a car, the other day Nancy nearly gets hit by a dropping curtain. At the airport before her flight to New York she even has been drugged by a woman who supports Edgar Nixon.

Nancy and her friends overcome all the obstacles and can be seen as the heroes at the end of the story. Sometimes I really want to be Nancy Drew, because her life must be really exciting. She has to solve so many mysteries.  The innocent people involved in the mysteries, for whom Nancy is the detective, are really proud of her and grateful for her support. She can be seen as a real girl hero. Imagine, the actress Nancy Drew had married Edgar Nixon – she would maybe be unhappy her entire life living together with a schemer. Thanks to Nancy and her friends, she has saved her heart and her money.

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Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: The secret of the old clock

September 17, 2007 at 9:31 am (Nancy Drew)

The mystery novel “The secret of the old clock” is the first book in the Nancy Drew series and was first published in 1930.

Nancy Drew, who is the protagonist in this and all the other Nancy Drew novels, is a sixteen year old teenager, who lives together with her father, a very respectable and knowledgeable lawyer, in River Heights. Nancy wants to help the poor relatives and friends of a man called Josiah Crowley, who nancy-drew_clock.jpghas died recently. Before his death he lived together with the Tophams, a very snobbish family, who treated him very badly. Still, they should inherit all the possessions and money of Josiah, as the actual will remains hidden, till Nancy, the detective girl, solves the case. By chance, she meets two friends of Josiah, Grace and Allie Horner, who are really poor and would urgently need some money. They tell Nancy that actually Josiah has promised to mention them in his will. Due to several stories of the girls, Nancy gets to know some relatives of Josiah, who say that the man should have made a new will before he died. Nancy struggles for justice and does everything to find the new will of the dead man. She does not want the Tophams to inherit any money or any possessions of Josiah and hopes that the true heirs will get the money as soon as possible. Travelling through the rural areas with her blue roadster and confronting very dangerous situations, like getting locked in a closet by thieves, following the thieves and breaking into their van, Nancy finally finds the mantle clock, where the information to find the new will is hidden.

The reasons why I really enjoyed reading the novel

Nancy Drew is a sixteen year old girl and I could very easily identify with her. I mean, even though it is a book for younger girls, I could put myself in Nancy’s position and feel with her.  One reason might be that it’s not so long ago that I was sixteen. She is a girl that is very sensitive and has a very huge sense of justice. She wants the true heirs to get Josiah’s money and hates the people, who would get all the possessions undeservingly. Therefore she tries to do everything to help the people in need and struggles for justice. To be able to do that she has to be very independent, which she really is throughout the whole book. Even though she is only sixteen, she has a lot of freedom, which gets expressed by the car she owns and uses whenever she wants to. She is allowed to stay at a camp with her friends and even takes part in some of her father’s meetings. Maybe one reason her father allows her all the things is that she is very mature for her age. We get to know that whenever she talks to her father and also to other people she is dealing with. One example that reveals her maturity is,

“Convinced that the inspiration was a happy one, she set off toward her father’s office. He was engaged in an important conference when she arrived, and Nancy was forced to wait ten minutes before she was admitted to the inner office. “Now what?” her father asked, smiling as she burst in upon him. “Is it a new dress you want?” Nancy’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes danced with excitement. “Don’t try to tease me,” she protested. “I’ve stumbled onto something important, and I want information!” (p. 62)

When she speaks to the Topham’s family, she also uses language very skilfully. For her sixteen years, she is a very powerful speaking young woman and can convince people very easily. But what fascinates me most about her character is her strong will to achieve something. “Where there’s a will, there’s way”, a proverb mentioned by Nancy that really impressed me. Even though it’s quite a harsh and difficult way to get the original will, Nancy does not give up and uses all her logical thinking and her power to fight for justice.

She is the perfect sixteen year old girl, who seems to live a perfect life. She needs to have enough money to afford the car, the father has a housekeeper who cares for Nancy and the house, as her mother died some time ago, she has lots of friends, with whom she can share her free time with if she wants to, she supports poor people and helps them whenever she can, she has a great relationship to her father and she is even capable of doing things which actually are associated with boys or men, like changing the tyres of a car. She is in no way distracted by class boundaries, values the work and effort done by poorer people who need money, she is very skilful with language and really fights for justice. It seems she lives a perfect life.

Maybe I liked the book so much, although it has been written for younger people, because I want to become nancy-drew-2.gifan English teacher one day. I think, even though the book is quite old, as it was written in 1930, one can use it for English classes in Austria. When reading the Nancy Drew story, kids can learn about certain values in life, which people these days often seem to forget. Justice is a word that really plays and important role throughout the whole story and should play an omnipresent role in everyone’s life today as well. Even though it seems that some parts in the book are quite illogical or too convenient, because Nancy really accomplishes everything without bigger problems, it’s a story that helps people to think about class boundaries, justice, poor people, freedom, parents and children’s relationships, just to name the most important aspects coming up in the book. I can only recommend people who are interested in girls and the aspects mentioned above to read Nancy Drew.

Although the black person, Jeff Tucker, is portrayed quite badly in the book, this should not be reason for saying that children shouldn’t read the Nancy Drew books. Parents and teachers should talk with the kids about the portrayal of the man and talk about the history and the time when the Nancy Drew books were written. Of course, if no one talks with the children and discusses the books, children could get a wrong impression of colored people and could get influenced by the books easily in a wrong way. But the character Nancy Drew is such a strong and impressive girl, and kids should simply get to know her, even though not everything in the books can be taken for granted. The most important thing is that adults talk to the children and try to help them understand the characters showing up in the books.

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